Box's CEO Sees a Bright Future Ahead
Aaron Levie explains what’s next for his company.
Aaron, you are the co-founder and CEO of an amazing entrepreneurial success story, from dorm room to the New York Stock Exchange. Yes. What's next for Box? We've got very little in the grand scheme of what is possible in empowering how companies work in the future. Today, most people that go into organizations they go into work, they log into their computer, they load their software, and they still have incredibly complex, slow, cumbersome experiences with their technology. But the future to us is fundamentally changing how people are able to work and leverage their information and all the data that they work with. You're full of so many great ideas. Do you see Box continuing as an independent company? Or as so many people like to say, one of these big tech giants is going to come and scoop up Box? Well certainly my preference is that we build this out as an independent company. That was why we went public. We went down this path because we wanted to build a very long standing company. We've been doing this 11 years. But we imagine the world and at how much change is going to happen in the next decade and beyond. And we want to be a part of that and build a company that can help power the way that people work in the future. So we'd like to stay independent. Can you differentiate yourself given all the competition that's out there? Apple, Amazon, Google. Yeah, so our job is actually-- in fact the more competition ironically that there is, the better off our strategy sort of is and how it works. So our job is to fundamentally leverage the fact that the world is very competitive and heterogeneous and is very dynamic, and make sure that our customers still can have an incredible experience for being able to share and collaborate across all those different platforms. So even as the world has gotten theoretically more competitive in our market, customers continue to come to us because they want something that's going to be simple and set across all the different technologies that they're working with. Let's talk about some of the other ways that you might differentiate yourself. So going international. I understand that you're beginning to move into Europe. How important is it for Box to go global? Yeah, I mean this is fundamental to our business. So work is being done everywhere. It's across a much larger and much more global supply chain and network than it ever has been. And our technology, our IT environment in most enterprises doesn't actually reflect how global business is actually becoming because our technology is very siloed. It's very isolated. It stays in one country. It stays for one set of people. So our job is to actually provide a software layer that helps you work no matter where you are in the world, but importantly be able to meet the privacy and regulatory and compliance requirements of each of those industries that you're working in. As you see things like Brexit and all the concerns about all that, that doesn't make you think like, maybe we should hold off for now? No. While we are against Brexit philosophically from an architecture standpoint, from a data regulation standpoint, that actually is exactly why we have Box zones. As the world potentially gets fragmented with different laws, different privacy policies, different legal requirements, we still want to make sure our customers can work at a global scale without that actually they're introducing more friction into their technology. OK. Let's talk a little bit about going public. I prefer globalization more a bit but we can talk about public viewing. All right. Let's talk a little bit about going public. So it's about a year since you had your IPO. Wall Street has not been very kind to your company. Does it still feel good to be a public company? I'm very happy to now be beyond that private unicorn phase of a company. We benefit actually quite a bit by being public. We have a lot more transparency to our customers. Our customers understand that we're building a long-term, sustainable, viable business that's very important for enterprises that are spending on IT. They want to be able to know that they're working with a vendor that's going to be around for the long run. And we don't need to raise more capital. So we'll be achieving cash flow breakeven by the end of this year. We don't need to do any more outside financing. So yes it would be great if your stock price only went up in perpetuity. But the reality is at different times, at different stages in a market, some investors are going to understand the strategy and why we're investing the way we are. Some investors won't understand that. And I think that that's ultimately what creates your stock price.